The weather was perfect: cold, crisp and clear following cleansing rains earlier in the week. When I set out I was feeling blessed and praising God.
About half-way through my route I realized that a piece of grit had worked its way into my right shoe. It wasn’t worth sitting in the roadside mud to take off my shoe and get rid of it, but I could feel it sliding around my heel with every step; not painful, just irritating. Gradually, that insignificant speck of sand consumed my every thought. Rather than reveling in my beautiful bonus walk, I was longing for it to end.
When reading the Apostle Paul’s comments about enduring a “thorn in the side” I have always supposed he was down-playing some major affliction by referring to it that way. Paul was always making less of himself in order to lift up Christ, so that seemed to fit. Now, I’m not so sure he wasn’t being more literal.
That evening watching the news coverage of the mobs and near-riots in the stores I was observing this same concept at work. The frantic shoppers in these scenes had allowed their discomfort at the thought of missing out on the bargains to overwhelm their good manners and good sense. If they had to do without these special electronics or other toys, what would it matter, really?
Too often we allow ourselves to get caught up in the unimportant bits of life while ignoring the beauty and blessings all around us.
I had watched the Macy’s Parade while prepping for dinner Thanksgiving morning and on Friday evening my TV viewing included frantic Black Friday commercials combined with the beginnings of the Christmas ad barrage. The thought crossed my mind that future generations might be forgiven for thinking this holiday was called Macy’s Day and that it kicked off a month-long celebration of shopping.
This emphasis on things began to annoy me. But, then I realized that it was just like that bit of grit in my shoe. I could allow my irritation at today’s materialism be the focus of my holiday season, or I could focus on the joy and peace that is the real reason behind it.
Some silly folks may bash and claw at each other over the latest wide-screen TV on Black Friday. I will be thankful every day for the greatest bargain of all… the free gift of God’s son who offers salvation to everyone.